WELCH, W.V. (LOOTPRESS) – This Friday and Saturday, the City of Welch will welcome visitors and BBQ professionals from far and wide to the inaugural West Virginia Coalfields Cookoff and subsequent Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) State BBQ Championship.
Andrea Ball, one of the event’s organizers, says the event is part of a city-wide initiative called “Coal Town USA,” which is working to rebrand Welch, increase community events, and celebrate the city’s history. The city has been planning the event since January.
“This is an opportunity for us to showcase the quintessential and historical heritage of Welch and McDowell County,” she said. “That is what we are trying to accomplish with this event so this is exciting for us.”
While event organizers hope locals can learn a thing or two about Welch through the event, their ultimate goal is to increase the town’s tourism opportunities.
The event will kick off on Friday evening in the heart of downtown Welch. The morning will be spent setting up for the event and allowing the BBQ teams to meet with one another. Ball says the event is expecting 40 teams from all over the country, primarily the mid-Atlantic.
Vendors and sales will open from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., just in time for karaoke at 5:30 p.m. The night will be complete with live music from The Georgia Thunderbolts and a firepit jam with marshmallows.
Most of the public events are taking place on Saturday with taste testings, a battle of the bands, a BBQ contest, music from a Grammy-nominated artist and an ATV festival along the Hatfield-McCoy Trail.
Saturday’s series of competitions come with some incredible prizes, according to Ball.
The winner of Batlle of the Bands will have their song recorded and get consideration from a record label, while BBQ Cook teams- who will be offering chicken, brisket, pork butt, and ribs- will compete for $5,000 in prize money and the West Virginia State BBQ Championship title.
Judges for the competition are traveling as far as Tennessee and North Carolina and as close as Welch itself.
For $5 in advance or $10 at the gate, event attendees can purchase taste tickets and sink their teeth into some of the best BBQ from vendors throughout the region.
A Beer Garden will be available for guests 21 and older, while the Kids Korner will have activities for kids of all ages.
There will also be craft vendors for those who want to support local artists.
“We want to show all the cool things we have going on in McDowell County,” Ball said. “We are calling it an amalgamation because it is just a great mash of all the wonderful things that are West Virginia. We truly have something for everybody. If you’re not a BBQ eater, we have other opportunities to enjoy. Bring a lawn chair, grab a beer and just listen to some music. Just come out.”
Ball says for visitors not to worry about the weather because the West Virginia Coalfields Cookoff will take place rain or shine.